Parrots feather

Myriophyllum aquaticum


Photo credit: ©GBNNSS

Common names:
  • Parrots feather
  • M. brasiliense
  • M. propernaciodes
  • M. propium

  • Freshwater aquatic systems. Adapted to high nutrient environments. It tends to colonise slowly moving or still water rather than in areas with higher flow rates.

Widely Spread Species:
  • Under Article 19 of Invasive Alien Species Regulation (1143/2014) Parrot's feather has been identified as a Widely Spread Species in Northern Ireland and as such, management measures have been put in place to minimise its impacts.

  • This species is similar to a native species of Myriophyllum, otherwise known as water milfoil. It is an aquatic invasive plant but has been recorded to survive in dried out ponds as well as on dry banks in Britain. So far, only female plants have been recorded in Britain and Ireland. As a result this species reproduces solely by fragmentation.
  • The species gets its name from the feather like blue-green leaves that arranged in whorls of 4-6 around the central stem. Parrots feather has both submerged and emergent leaves that grow above the surface of the water. The submersed leaves are 1.5 to 3.5 centimetres long and have 20 to 30 divisions per leaf. The emergent leaves are 2 to 5 centimetres long and have 6 to 18 divisions per leaf. The bright green emergent leaves are stiffer and a darker green than the submersed leaves. The emergent stems and leaves are the most distinctive trait of M. aquaticum, as they can grow up to a foot above the water surface and look almost like small fir trees. Garden centres are also known to sell similar species that are also recognised invasive species. These may be labelled as M. brasiliense, or M. propernaciodes, or M. propium. Forms small (2mm) inconspicuous white flowers May-August.

Origin and Distribution:
  • The species is native to South America where both male and female forms are known.

  • This species is capable of out competing native macrophytes, reducing species diversity.
  • There is also a possibility that this species will clog waterways leading to problems for drainage and access.

How did it get here?
  • The species was brought to Ireland as a garden pond plant.

Is it found in Northern Ireland?
  • It has been recorded in Northern Ireland.
  • The number of garden ponds with this species is unknown.
  • More distribution information can be found at NBN Atlas NI.

You can help by reporting any sightings: @ the Centre for Environmental Data & Recording (CEDaR) - Or via the iRecord App.
Further Resources: 
Prevent Spread
  • Promote native species and biodiversity - use alternative, native plants
  • Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants
  • Do not swap plants and cuttings
  • Clean plants before adding to ponds (dispose of water away from water courses)
  • Follow control advice and watch out for hitchhikers - inspect new imported purchases for invasive pest and pathogens
  • Clean equipment before moving between waterbodies
  • Never collect plants from the wild
  • Safe disposal of plant material and growing media
  • Report all sightings.

Current Legislative Position (Listed on 03 August 2016)
  • This species must not intentionally be brought into the Union; kept; bred; transported to, from or within the United Kingdom, unless for the transportation to facilities in the context of eradication; placed on the market; used or exchanged; permitted to reproduce, grown or cultivated; or released into the environment.
For further queries, you can contact the Invasive Non Native Species (INNS) Team in the Northern Ireland Environment Agency on 028 9056 9558 or Email:

Species Related Files:

Invasive Species Northern Ireland

Invasive Species Northern Ireland